Insight News

Sunday
Nov 23rd

Health

Environmental links to prostate cancer

Environmental links to prostate cancerDear EarthTalk: Is it true that environmental factors could be playing a role in the increasing number of prostate cancer cases in the U.S. and elsewhere? -- Joshua Gordon, New York, NY

Prostate cancer is a growing problem for men in the U.S. as well as in other developed nations around the world. Some 40,000 American men lose their battle with prostate cancer every year—the only cancer more deadly for U.S. men is skin cancer. Age is the primary “risk factor” for developing prostate cancer. One out of every six American men over the age of 40 will develop prostate cancer, while four out of five over 80-years-old will get it. Of course, genes also play a big role. The American Cancer Society reports that a man’s prostate cancer risk doubles if his father or brother has suffered from the disease. Researchers believe a genetic predisposition accounts for as many as 10 percent of all cases of the disease in the U.S.
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McCollum asks FDA to ban triclosan

McCollum asks FDA to ban triclosanU.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4) and two congressional colleagues are calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the chemical triclosan, a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps, shampoos, household cleaners and even such products as socks and toys. They've asked for a full review of triclosan to be submitted to Congress by April. The co-sponsors are US Reps. Louise Slaughter of New York and Raul Grijalva of Arizona.


Dr. David Wallinga, director of the food and health program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, says that for years the scientific community has expressed concern over triclosan contributing to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so-called "superbugs."


"Bacteria - bugs around us - are actually quite smart, and exposing them to antibacterials or antimicrobial chemicals helps to make them smarter. So putting an antibacterial or antimicrobial like Triclosan out there in the environment and our waterways unnecessarily is just not a good idea at all," said Wallinga.

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What's for lunch? Nutrition in schools

Most of us will splurge on our diets for a day or two during the holiday, but it's the food offered to Minnesota school children every day that has such organizations as the American Heart Association (AHA) concerned. They join more than a thousand groups that sent a letter to Congress urging them to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which would improve nutritional standards for school lunches. The current guidelines were put in place 15 years ago and are seen by many as in need of updating. 

With one in three American children overweight or obese, Rachel Callanan, regional vice president of advocacy for AHA in Minnesota, explains why changes are needed.
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Women and long-term care planning

Women and long-term care planningToday’s women have more lifestyle options than ever before. We consistently assume many important roles – from caring for our loved ones (both young and old) to pursuing vibrant careers and lives. In fact, women are often heralded for their multi-tasking skills.

However, there is one task many of us put on the back burner, and that’s planning for our own futures. When it comes to our home, health and finances, we like to be in control. Understanding and arranging for long-term care is one of the smartest decisions we can make to stay in command of our future. But for too many women, particularly those of African American descent, there is still a great deal of important information we are not familiar with and don’t incorporate into critical planning for our futures.
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Low-cost vaccination clinics for people of all ages

Vaccines prevent diseases for people of all ages. Low-cost immunizations to people who lack health insurance or whose health insurance does not cover vaccines will be offered through Hennepin County.

The clinics available:
• Bloomington Clinic: Bloomington Division of Health,
1900 W. Old Shakopee Road, 3 to 5:30 p.m., on Dec. 7 and 21.

•Brooklyn Center Clinic: Hennepin County’s Brookdale Service Center,
6125 Shingle Creek Parkway, 9 to 11 a.m., on Dec. 28.

•Downtown Minneapolis Clinic: Hennepin Health Services Building,
525 Portland Ave. S., 8:30 to 11 a.m. on Dec. 3.

For more information about these clinics, call 612-348-2884 or go to www.hennepin.us/vaccines.

Donations are requested but not required for the immunizations.

Sustainable small homes

Sustainable small homesDear EarthTalk: I am looking for a small, modular home to put on a piece of vacation property. What’s available that could meet my needs and be easier on the environment than building a traditional house from scratch? -- Rob Sherman, Minneapolis, MN

First utilized by relief and aid missions around the world to house workers or refugees, self-contained modular homes that can be partially or even fully fabricated in advance are now all the rage among green architects and those committed to more sustainable living—and they’re beginning to pop all across North America and beyond, mostly for use as guest houses and vacation cabins. The benefits of such homes versus their larger traditional counterparts are many. In theory, prefabrication generates less waste, uses less energy, and provides more opportunities for the incorporation of greener construction methods and technologies. Most such buildings are also less demanding on the home site of choice.
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Wasted restaurant food.

Wasted restaurant food.Dear EarthTalk: I work at a fast food place and I am appalled by the amount of unpurchased food we throw away. The boss says we can’t give it away for legal reasons. Where can I turn for help on this, so the food could instead go to people in need? -- Ryan Jones, Richland, WA

Many restaurants, fast food or otherwise, are hesitant to donate unused food due to concerns about liability if people get sick after eating it—especially because once any such food is out of the restaurant’s hands, who knows how long it might be before it is served again. But whether these restaurants know it or not, they cannot be held liable for food donated to organizations, and sometimes all it might take to change company policy would be a little advocacy from concerned employees.

A 1995 survey found that over 80 percent of food businesses in the U.S. did not donate excess food due to liability concerns. In response, Congress passed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, which releases restaurants and other food organizations from liability associated with the donation of food waste to nonprofits assisting individuals in need. The Act protects donors in all 50 states from civil and criminal liability for good faith donations of “apparently wholesome food”—defined as meeting “all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other condition.”
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